Friday, September 2, 2011

Fake Traditional Healers and Miraculous Healers in Bhutan

It is disheartening to see how we are fooled by traditional medicinal quacks, traditional healers and miraculous healers.  The medicinal Quacks are often shady monks or students of shady lamas who pretended to be making medicines from exotic herbs available in the villages. At one time, I was at home as I had suffered major paralysis.   A traditional quack visited our slums. He was selling medicines which were manufactured by his Tsawai Lama and him. He told the group of women that he was approved by some people placed high in the social hierarchy.  My sister and few other women confessed about their recurring stomach pain. He told them that they shouldn’t eat for two days. On third day, they should drink their own urine. This would wash away the germs inside the stomach. I couldn’t believe my ears and told my sister not to do but to no avail. She was hell-bent to go ahead and get rid of that problem once for all. The urine may be containing some medicinal value but what if urine has more germs and infections. It was three years ago and today my sister still suffers from recurring stomach pain.
In the village, we get many vagrants selling medicines for few bucks or bartering few things. They made living out of that. Most of them are middleman selling for somebody.
At other time, I watched so called Pamo (Shaman) conducting the extensive rituals to cure sick person. I have heard lot about that Pamo. Firstly, she always extracted or unearthed ‘written curse of black magician which is hidden’ from the rear corner of the house of the host.  Secondly, she always built Torma (Sacrificial Stupa) out of few kilograms of butter. Thirdly, it is always done during the night and she should be only accompanied by her Tsangmin/ helper, who was her husband. People only got to see the written curse once she brought inside the house.  That night ritual was performed at my friend’s home. My friends’ parents were firm believers though my friend was a born skeptic. The Pamo possessed by deity reached Paro Taktshang and asked the local deity of Taktshang where he had stolen sick man’s soul or not. The deity replied in language mixed of Sharchop, Tibetan and Dzongkha. I thought if deity was drunk since the deity was supposed to talk in Dzongkha as he is from Paro. Then the time came for extraction of Written Curse.   I observed her feat stealthily from window. In the moonlight, I could see that her husband was handing a piece of paper as she chanted some incantation.  The same paper came inside and we were asked to see the written curse. We all rushed to see what was written. We could find nothing except a letter which was neither Dzongkha letter ‘Ka’ nor ‘Ga’. Her husband told us that the letter disappeared as we all rushed to see. We should have seen it, if we have looked one by one.  The paper was new. The condition of traditional paper told me that it was not possible to be inside the earth. The place where earth was dug told me that it should be at least ten years old as it was below foundation of that house. She told the gathering that the sick person who was distant cousin of my friends would be cured.  That man died three months later.  
Last week, my neighbor who was low income civil servant was pressurized by her father-in-law to arrange ngultrum 30,000. His father-in-law has come all the way from Mongar. My neighbour’s mother in-law was sick. The local astrologer had told that it was a case of sorcery. The sickness was inflicted by local black magician who was in bad terms with them.  This time, his father-in-law wanted to go tit for tat and uproot the black magician. The guy chosen was a soldier from Royal Body Guard.  He had suspposed to have cured many people and killed the black magicians. Throughout the night, I heard clashes of cymbals, beating of drums and blowing of trumpets. Next morning, my neighbour’s wife was jubilant. She told me that when they cut the human size Torma in the dark, a red liquid supposedly blood oozed out of the Torma. It was then and there cleaned as directed and thrown into river. Was it really a blood?  The miraculous healer told the brother-in-law that the black magician will be dead either by accident or dog bite after one week. I am yet to hear the dog bite or accident. I am eagerly waiting. Only I heard was my neighbor pleading landlady that he will pay this month’s rent along with next month’s rent as had paid more than Nu.10,000 as a fee to that healer. ‘After one week’ could mean eternal as there is no time limit.

The recent three cases of traditional healers tell a lot. They are all low income group people. They need the healing power and knowledge to complement their earnings. In Thimphu, most healers come from armed forces of Bhutan. Of recently detained three rapists, two are from ex-armed forces.  All are from low income groups.  These petty quacks who feed on ignorance of people sometimes get carried away. Under the guise of curing, they ended up demanding more favour which are immoral and illegal.  The sexual exploitation from the minor was one of them.  The exploitation is bolstered by people’s ignorance and dated traditions existing in our country.
The traditional healing must be made illegal. The unauthorized selling of medicine, I supposed, is being dealt with law by Drug Regulatory Authority. The miraculous healing must be banned after due to process of law and fact. Even some Trulku who seduced young girl saying they have sign of Dakini (angel) should be imprisoned.  This practice is not Buddhism but Bullyism. And finally, we have seen many reincarnated lamas. If reincarnated lamas come at this progressive rate, in two hundred years whole population will be Rimpoche. The truelku system can be banned. There was no truelku system in Buddhism till 11 century. The Tibetans have done well of course inventing them.

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